Sunday, July 1, 2012

Review: The Midwife of Venice by Roberta Rich

A “lavishly detailed” (Elle Canada) debut that masterfully captures sixteenth century Venice against a dramatic and poetic tale of suspense.

Not since The Red Tent or People of the Book has a novel transported readers so intimately into the complex lives of women centuries ago or so richly into a story of intrigue that transcends the boundaries of history. Hannah Levi is renowned for her gift at coaxing reluctant babies from their mothers using her secret “birthing spoons.” When a Christian count implores her to attend his dying wife and save their unborn son, she is torn. A Papal edict forbids Jews from rendering medical treatment to Christians, but the count’s payment is enough to ransom Hannah’s husband, Isaac, who has been captured at sea. Can she refuse her duty to a woman who is suffering? Hannah’s choice entangles her in a treacherous family rivalry that endangers the child and threatens her voyage to Malta, where Isaac, believing her dead in the plague, is preparing to buy his passage to a new life.

Beautifully told with exceptional skill, The Midwife of Venice brings to life a time and a place cloaked in fascination and mystery and introduces a captivating new talent in historical fiction.

Received for review.

Historical fiction of this type doesn't normally do much for me and this was no exception. Granted, it was very well written and an intriguing premise, but the actual story did nothing for me. It was almost entirely about religion (I mean, it was the 1500s, but still) and the religious attitudes of the characters simply appalled me. As such, the characters really did not draw me in or make me care about them which really impacted my enjoyment of the story.

Also, there were quite graphic birthing scenes. Give me a good old gory murder or vampire attack over these blood soaked, violent scenes. Ick!!

All in all, this was just not for me, but others who enjoy women's historical fiction may find this a good fit. At the very least it was worth a peek.

☆☆= Just Okay


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